Better infotag

In v2.0.4 we have unified the framebuffer infotag across the plug-ins and the stand-alone. We have also made it be more accurate and readable.

Here you can see what the new infotag looks like:

New Arion v2.0.4 infotag
New Arion v2.0.4 infotag

The image above gives a brief explanation of the meaning of each field.

Note that we have changed the old fps (frames per second) counter by a pass/s (passes per second) counter. The old per-device heat bars have been replaced by a more meaningful numerical counter with the number of passes contributed by each device.

As a reminder:

A pixel receives a sample when a light path which pierces the pixel is traced. The contribution of said light path is added to the pixel, and this is called a sample.

Arion is designed so each device runs a loop that computes one sample for each pixel in the frame buffer. Each iteration of this loop is called a pass. For example, when the render reaches 10 passes, this means that each pixel has received 10 samples so far.

Depending on the amount of super-sampling used by the engine for Anti-Aliasing, the number of pixels stored in memory may be larger than the amount of pixels in the final render. For example, the framebuffer may be set to do 2×2 AA, and in this case, the framebuffer contains 4 times more pixels than the output image. For this reason, the number of frames and passes may not coincide. We decided to use passes for our counters (instead of frames) so the speed measurements are consistent across versions from now on, regardless of the super-sampling level used by the engine.

Region Render

Arion and MAX LIVE v2.0.4 got Region Render, which has been a very common request among our customers.

In the particular case of MAX LIVE, this feature is linked to 3dsMax’ built-in ‘Area to Render’ selector/tool.

Region Render in MAX LIVE
Region Render in MAX LIVE (Scene by John Strieder)

From a technical point of view, Region Render simply dismisses the pixels left out of the selected area, so they do not waste any rendering resources. However, those pixels exist in memory as much as if they were being rendered. This means that the size of the framebuffer (i.e., its memory usage) is the same regardless of whether Region Render is enabled or not, but computational power is concentrated on the selected pixels exclusively.

2x speed boost

We still must run many checks to confirm fully, but Arion v2.0.4 will bring a nearly 100% performance boost. That is, v2.0.4 will be about TWICE as fast as v2.0.3 in terms of raw speed. This must be combined with the fact that the noise generator is also smarter (as explained in a previous blog post) and hence the convergence ratio is already better than in v2.0.3.

Both facts combined should refine renders more than twice as fast as in v2.0.3.

Some early comparisons also show that this new build will be faster than Arion v1.6.0 ever was, despite the fact that Arion 2 brings tremendously costly features such as fully unbiased motion-blur, instancing, and displacement mapping.

This all is, truly, exceptional news. We will post some numbers soon.

For those of you anxious about release dates, Arion v2.0.4 (both the stand-alone and MAX LIVE) will be released when they are ready, as usual.

Render or photo?

Will you be able to tell which one is a render and which one is a photo?

Arion 2.0.4 Render or Photo

You can post your guesses on our Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/RandomControl

This amazing case study of photo reproduction was conducted at Studio Podrini in Italy by Arianna Montini and Tommaso Trufelli. Great work guys!